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The Exec: SVP of Finance at Novant Health Discusses Revenue Cycle Success

Analysis  |  By Amanda Norris  
   October 12, 2022

Novant Health recently consolidated its billing and established a better end-to-end patient experience.

The patient financial experience is cumbersome and billing statements can be hard to navigate for the average patient. As the patient financial experience starts to play a larger role in an organization's overall success, revenue cycle leaders are now turning to streamlined technology for bill pay to create a positive patient financial experience, protect patients from surprise medical bills, and allow revenue cycle staff to spend more time on meaningful work.

Doing so, though, is not always easy.

A lot of organizations rely only on mail, email, and/or EHR communications to reach patients, which hinder patients who intend to pay their bills but are ultimately left frustrated with their experience.

Acknowledging this gap in its own patient financial experience, Novant Health's Senior Vice President of Finance, Geoff Gardner, decided the organization needed to consolidate hospital and physician group billing and established a better end-to-end patient experience for bill pay though email billing and text notifications.

This, Gardner says, achieved the following results for Novant Health: A 90% patient satisfaction score, 87% of collections now completely self-serviced, a 43% drop in days to collect, and nine-times the return on investment.

Gardner recently chatted with HealthLeaders about Novant Health's journey in establishing this revenue cycle success.

HealthLeaders: What prompted Novant Health to look for a solution to streamline its financial and billing experience?

Geoff Gardner: For years we've been working to modernize and improve our consumer experience and revenue cycle organization. We had previously relied on mail, email, and MyChart to reach our community. While we saw some slow and steady improvements, we knew we needed a fully revamped process to deliver on the simplified patient billing experience we envisioned.

HL: Healthcare has been going through a lot of turmoil and upheaval recently, and it's been very financially challenging. Can you share your experience and how technology has helped Novant Health see a rise in collections?

Gardner: Like many other health systems, Novant Health has experienced financial challenges such as inflationary pressures on wages, supplies, and medications. In addition to that, the necessity of utilizing contract clinical labor has driven a material increase in expense across the system.

We launched Cedar Pay, a patient engagement and payment platform that integrates into our Epic system, across both hospital billing and physician billing.

After implementation, we've seen both a rise in collections and a major decrease in time to collect. Specifically, over a 12-month period, cash collections increased by tens of millions, while time to collect has dropped by over 40%. And, in addition to the financial impact, our patient satisfaction improved dramatically, now sitting at 90%.

Pictured: Geoff Gardner is the Senior Vice President of Finance of Novant Health. Photo courtesy of Novant Health.

HL: What changes do you see for the patient financial experience within the next couple of years, especially in light of the No Surprises Act and price transparency rule?

Gardner: In light of recent legislation around price transparency and surprise billing, it's critical that providers listen to their patients and find ways to engage that work for them. Part of the reason we decided to implement new technology was because we wanted to optimize our billing experience on mobile devices. I'm sure we'll see this trend continuing—both at Novant Health and across health systems in general. Providers should be empowering patients with a digital-forward experience that helps patients understand their bills and how insurance benefits apply.

HL: Are there any additional solutions or strategies you plan to leverage in the future to further improve the patient experience and/or your revenue cycle function?

Gardner: Our revenue cycle leadership team is constantly looking for ways to improve our various processes and how our patients experience the payment process. We are looking for new ways to automate certain workflows through robotic process automation and AI so that our teams can focus on the highest value work. In addition to that, the pre-service experience is on our radar, and we’ll be working to modernize and improve that in the future.

HL: What tips do you have for other leaders looking to digitize certain revenue cycle processes?

Gardner: I'd recommend partnering with a technology-forward vendor that understands the full healthcare billing journey from end-to-end and really understands what consumers want. Combining acute and ambulatory into a unified patient experience was something we had wanted to do for a long time. We'd asked several other vendors, but we went with the one that said they could do it and delivered on that promise.

“In light of recent legislation around price transparency and surprise billing, it's critical that providers listen to their patients and find ways to engage that work for them. ”

Amanda Norris is the Associate Content Manager of Finance, Payer, Revenue Cycle, and Strategy for HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Many organizations still rely on antiquated billing practices that hinder the patient financial experience.

It's critical that providers listen to their patients to find solutions that work for them.


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